Last year may have been a year of dividend slashing, but there are now more and more companies committed to sending more money out to their shareholders in 2010.

Let's take a closer look at some of the companies that inched their payouts higher this past week.

Let's start with Republic Services (NYSE: RSG). The waste hauler is jacking up its quarterly dividend by 5% to $0.20 a share. It's hard to trash Republic's record. It has now increased its disbursements six times since initiating its policy in 2003.

Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) is also digging deeper into its pockets to fork over more of its greenery to shareowners. Investors will be receiving $0.15 a share every three months, a hefty 50% improvement over its previous rate.

Alliance Resource Partners (Nasdaq: ARLP) is also edging its payout higher. The coal producer and marketer is raising its dividend by 3% to $0.81 a share. The move may pale compared to Newmont's 50% upgrade, but Alliance has made it a habit of enhancing its rate on a quarterly basis. It adds up over time, and Alliance's yield of more than 6% means that waiting is half the fun.

Finally we have Crane (NYSE: CR) craning its neck higher. The industrial manufacturer's new quarterly distribution rate of $0.23 a share is a 15% boost over its previous payouts.

Companies are starting to return more of their money to their investors, and shareholders aren't likely to be complaining. Natural gas specialist William Partners (NYSE: WPZ) and propane pro Inergy (Nasdaq: NRGY) (Nasdaq: NRGP) both recently fortified their distributions.

Subscribers to the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter can appreciate the companies sending more and more money to their investors. The newsletter singles out companies that are committed to growing their distributions with market-thumping results.

Want to see what is being recommended these days? Go ahead and give the newsletter service a shot with a 30-day trial subscription. Who knows? Maybe the next thing that will get hiked will be your interest.

Do higher dividends matter to you? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Alliance Resource Partners LP and Republic Services are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz pays attention to yield signs. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.